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In Hot Water Over Frozen Food

, , , , , | Working | June 29, 2022

I worked as a cashier at a fast food chain. One day, I was assigned to handle our incoming delivery. The way the building was structured, our walk-in freezer and coolers were on a second floor. Everything else that needed to be put away was on the first floor with the main working area. For our convenience, we had a freight elevator at the side of our restaurant that we could place our frozen products on and send to the second floor.

This day was particularly hot — in the triple digits — and I didn’t want the frozen products and perishables sitting outside in the sun while I was stocking products on the first floor. I gathered them all, put them in the freight elevator for the time being, and began stocking the kitchen and supply room on the first floor.

In the middle of everything, the shift manager for that day suddenly grabbed my arm and began pulling me to the front counter.

Manager: “We are getting murdered out here! I need you up front now!

Me: “Wait, I have frozen products—”

Manager: “Never mind the delivery! [Employee] is coming in; she’ll take care of it. I need you on the registers now!”

Me: “But there is frozen food—”

Manager: “I KNOW THERE IS FROZEN FOOD OUT! WE’LL DEAL WITH IT! GET ON YOUR STATION BEFORE I WRITE YOU UP!”

I logged into my register and got to work. And yes, there were two busloads of teenagers on a retreat stopping in for lunch. The dining room was packed beyond capacity.

I forgot about the entire thing as just another crazy day at work until two days later when I got a call from the general manager. From the way his voice was quivering, I could tell that he was desperately employing every form of self-restraint he could muster.

General Manager: “You were assigned delivery on Monday, were you not?”

Me: “Yes?”

General Manager: “And you know that it’s your job to finish everything properly, especially with our perishables and frozen products, right? Right?!

Me: *Springing up* “I’m not the one who put it all away—”

General Manager: “Oh, I quite saw that. You have exactly fifteen seconds to give a logical and rational explanation of why the freight elevator is full of frozen and perishable foods that have been sitting here for two days, or you can consider Monday your last day here and turn in your uniform. Start talking!

I frantically blurted out what had happened between me and the shift manager. As I spoke, I noticed that the general manager’s voice became frighteningly calm as he would quietly interject with, “Really… Is that so? Reaaaally… Mmhmm…”

General Manager: “Okay, time out. Just so we are both clear on this. You were working on delivery. [Manager] pulled you off delivery, despite the fact that I assigned you for it, and later she told [Employee] to finish it up — an employee who has only been here a month and has never even worked delivery before and probably didn’t even know about the freight elevator since it’s out of sight. Do I have that correct?”

Me: Yes! I tried to tell her—”

General Manager: *Eery calmness* “No! No-no-no. We’re all set. You’re in the clear. See you at five.” *Click*

I showed up for my shift and noticed several crew members wore uncomfortable looks on their faces throughout the day. The shift manager in question was working that day as well. She was stone silent and looked like she was ready to burst into tears at any given moment. When she spoke with any customer, her voice was forced and raspy and maintained a constant quiver.

As the assistant manager cashed me out at the end of my shift, he told me with a chuckle what had happened.

Assistant Manager: “You know how in the Mortal Kombat games, at the end of the fight, the screen gets dark and an ominous voice goes, ‘FINISH HIM!’? That’s just about what happened. When you told [General Manager] what happened and he got off the phone with you, that was the part of everything going dark and that voice saying, ‘FINISH HER!’ I have never in my time here heard that man scream as loud as he did at that woman. The office door was closed, but the whole building could hear it — dining room and all! He completely shredded her! Then, the store owner called in and ripped her apart on top of it. I mean, that was well over $10,000 of revenue that had to be trashed! Safe to say, that’s never going to happen again.”

I gave a relieved laughed, and we went our ways. Sometimes, it really is best for the boss to listen to what the employee has to say and not be so focused on being in charge!

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